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Rhabdomyolysis, A Little Update. No Lactic Or Tomatoes Today Please

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For those interested in this subject.


Rhabdomyolysis (Also known as running a dogs back off and erroneously as lactic acidosis.)


Hopefully most will know the symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis and act accordingly, I’ve been writing on the subject for 10 years and in that time it has changed from a relatively unknown or misunderstood subject to one that in the main is common knowledge. Over this time I have learnt more about and gained a better understanding of the physiology involved so thought it time for a quick update for those interested. Also there are still a few who still cling to the methods of the past with things like treating with tinned tomatoes, blaming lactic acid etc, as demonstrated with a discussion on a FB page recently which threw up a number of Google experts with “interesting ideas” or lack of them.


Exertional Rhabdomyolys is the term used to describe skeletal muscle breakdown that comes about due to exercise overload, with a commonality to heat, and is, in everyday terms, due to an excessive buildup of calcium in the cells. This happens when there is a depletion of ATP 2nd to exertion beyond the cells capability to cope. This results in large amounts of fluid leaking from the damaged muscle cells into the blood stream, which brings with it lots of harmful chemicals that have the potential to cause kidney damage, compartment syndrome, cardiac arrhythmias, gastro intestinal ischemia, blood clotting disorders (DIC) and in severe cases death.


In brief the muscle cells membrane have pumps that control the electrolyte balance; these depend on ATP for energy, when this is depleted, due to excessive muscle contraction there is a breakdown in the sodium- calcium exchange resulting in a buildup of the latter. This results in increased activity and release of free radicals which damage the cells membrane.


So firstly; how the feck people believe tinned tomatoes are going to have any effect on this is beyond me! They are like some kind of talisman to ward off evil spirits that people hold up at any mention of this complaint. Potassium is needed once the rebuilding phase is begun to rebuild new muscle tissue etc and is found in tomatoes but this is found in most ingredients of s dog’s diet, so this doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.

Secondly Lactic Acid production does not cause excessive acidosis, in fact it has the opposite effect as the breakdown of glucose into two pyruvate molecules produces four protons and consumes two and the conversion of two pyruvate to two lactate consumes two. This means that lactate production acts as a buffer to acidosis rather than a cause. Basically lactate slows and is a consequence of acidosis rather than a cause and likely keeps the muscle at the right pH for maximal contraction. Then lactate itself is an energy source utilized by the heart and brain, especially during exercise being gradient related, both of which are fundamental to the chase.


Management is standard, cool and hydrate, orally use water in the 1st instance as the electrolytes in the blood will be all over the place so adding more may well be counterproductive, IV will be under the supervision of a vet. If severe see vet and ere on the side of caution, most dogs will recover but a few will develop life threatening complications and some will have delayed problems as kidney damage can show in the dogs latter years. Rebuild with gradually increasing exercise and good balanced diet, this can contain tomatoes or bananas, it can happen again in prone animals but usually it’s just down to over running especially in warmer weather.


As to them in the know? I can only suggest if you have a dog with this problem and the local “experts” offers their gems of advice which start with lactic acid and end with tomatoes, tinned or otherwise, put them on the shelf with the tobacco for worms and toads for warts school of thought.


For those not aware of my previous posts





A little light reading here for those with too much time on their hands. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc//PMC1664920/

Edited by sandymere
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Very interesting sandy, i will not bother with the toms now, but will still put an onion behind my dogs ear lol.

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